Tuesday, September 12, 2006

From the Shrine It Off Corner

Long ago in TV Land there was, briefly in the firmament, a summer replacement series. I wish I could tell you precisely what it was called, but the middle-aged brain cannot recall. My brother thought perhaps it was a Second City TV production. Anyway, it was a sketch comedy show. One recurring sketch that had at least me and two of my siblings glued to the tube every week in complete ROFLOL hysterics involved a family living in a mobile home (with all of those attendant jokes). Each week, one or another family member would do a double take, peer closely at wall, or floor, or ceiling, and then shout excitedly, “Pa, come quick! I see the face of Jesus clear as anythin’ on the wall right here by the door!” To which the other would reply, “Shrine it off, Ma, shrine it off!” and out would come the stanchions and velvet ropes, literally or figuratively, and a paying attraction would be born. This routine was repeated with minor variations every single show so that “Shrine it off!” became our catchphrase for some time.

Alas, the show and the catchphrase had faded into the fond, slightly amusing memory heap until our move to Florida, shiny stud on the Bible Belt that it is. Almost immediately, the parade of stories began to appear, and they have continued with some regularity. The first was the lady who had preserved a slightly burnt toasted cheese sandwich for years (How, one idly wonders, thinking of many refrigerator science experiments over the years?) only to auction the holy relic on E-Bay for five figures to an Internet casino where, as far as I know, it still resides today.

More recently, there was the alligator whose markings spelled God on one side, according to its owner. Admittedly, it was a Wisconsin alligator, but seeing as how we are the Gator Nation here, and a Florida alligator expert was called upon in the article to stipulate (as he did) that the markings appeared to be natural and not caused by paint or by scarring the poor beastie’s hide, I believe it qualifies as an honorary Florida story. That one brought to mind for me the old joke about the dyslexic agnostic who wasn’t sure there really was a Dog. My beloved pup bears a perfect white paw print on his side. Could it be that I have on my very own pooch (Note: the next phrase should be read as if delivered with indrawn breath and hushed tones of wonder): “The Mark of Dog?”

Now, lately, the sacred figures of Christianity seem to be less and less discriminating about where, and more importantly in what, they appear. First, the discard drippings from the dark chocolate vat at a California chocolate factory set up over the weekend in what employees say is the Virgin Mary’s figure. Then, a Mr. John Milanos of St. Louis, Missouri, was about to empty the grease tray from his George Foreman Grill after enjoying his burger when he spotted the image of the Virgin Mary in the congealed grease. He has preserved the sacred grease in his frig and contacted the George Foreman Grill manufacturers. As of the date the story appeared in the media, the company, strangely, had not responded.

Check out the links I have set up in the sidebar and judge the images for yourself. Personally, I couldn’t tell whether it was a chocolate copy of the The Maltese Falcon statue from the Bogart film of the same name or the Virgin Mary. And don’t you HATE it when your chocolate gets that white stuff on it? To my theologically untrained eye, the grease Virgin appears rather more Rubensesque than I remember her from Sunday school days. Perhaps it was the medium; hamburgers are supposed to be fattening. Let me know what you think. As these stories continue to come up, I will update our Shrine It Off corner periodically.

I believe there is only one thing left for me to say: “Shrine it off, shrine it off!”

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